Woman declared dead found alive at funeral home

A Nebraska woman who was pronounced dead Monday at a nursing home was discovered breathing hours later by a funeral home employee, authorities said.

The woman, Constance Glantz, 74, of Lincoln, Neb., was taken to a hospital and pronounced alive, Chief Deputy Ben Houchin of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference Monday. MS. Glantz died hours after the error was discovered, he told reporters Tuesday.

“At this stage we have not been able to detect any criminal intent on the part of the retirement home, but the investigation is ongoing,” he said Monday.

MS. Glantz was receiving hospice care when she was pronounced dead at 9:44 a.m. by staff at Mulberry Nursing Home at Waverly in Waverly, Neb., Deputy Chief Houchin said. A sheriff’s coroner’s inquest was not necessary at the time of the death, he said.

The funeral home, which local media reports is Butherus-Maser & Love Funeral Home in Lincoln, transported a person “whom they believed to be a deceased person” from the nursing home, Deputy Chief Houchin said. But an employee who began preparing Ms. Glantz’s body noticed that she was still breathing. Two hours after she was pronounced dead, staff called 911, he said.

Staff members were performing CPR on Ms. Glantz when emergency medical workers from Lincoln Fire and Rescue arrived, said MJ Lierman, an agency speaker.

They treated Ms. Glantz on the scene and transported her to the hospital, Ms. Liermann said. She died Monday around 4 p.m., Deputy Chief Houchin said. The cause of death has not been released; an autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday morning, Deputy Chief Houchin said.

MS. Glantz’s family has been notified, authorities said. Authorities provided no additional details about Ms. Glantz, including how long she had been in the hospital or whether she suffered from any health problems.

Investigators were looking into whether any laws had been broken, but so far “we haven’t been able to determine anything,” Deputy Chief Houchin said Monday.

Calls to the nursing home went unanswered Monday evening.

“This is a very unusual case,” Deputy Chief Houchin said. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years, and nothing like this has ever gotten to this point before.”

Although rare, there have been cases of people being declared dead only to be found alive shortly after.

In 2023, an Iowa woman was taken in a body bag to a funeral home, where workers discovered her chest moving as she gasped for air.

In 2020, a Michigan woman with cerebral palsy was pronounced dead by paramedics, but was discovered breathing hours later by a funeral home employee who was preparing to embalm her body.

In 2018, a South African woman was pronounced dead at the scene of a car crash, but hours later she was found breathing in a morgue. And in 2014, a Mississippi man who was clearly dead was found alive in a body bag at a funeral home.

Jesus Jiménez reports contributed.

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